Love for processed food made of chicken meat among people also indicates the gradual growth of the poultry meat processing and further processing industry in Bangladesh
"Two [pieces of] fried chicken, please," ordered third-graders Salman and Malek.
After finishing the fried chicken hungrily, the two friends ordered chicken balls at the CP Five Star Kitchen outlet in Hatirpool, which was filled with chicken meat lovers.
"We come here to eat our favourite chicken items when we have sufficient money. The shop is on the way to our school," said Salman.
"I like chicken leg pieces and chicken balls. But I cannot afford to have them regularly. I can only have them two to three times a month," Salman added.
"We sell 15 items here in our shop. Spicy chicken and chicken balls are the most popular among customers," said a staff of CP Five Star Kitchen.
The love for processed food made of poultry meat, especially among the young generations, has grown in Bangladesh over the past few decades. The major cities of the country are filled with such fried-chicken shops like CP Five Star Kitchen.
This also indicates the gradual growth of the poultry meat processing industry in Bangladesh.
The industry started flourishing in Bangladesh in the 1990s, when the first chicken meat processing industry of the country was set up by Aftab Bahumukhi Farms Ltd at Bajitpur, Kishoreganj.
Mahbubur Rahman, manager (sales) of Aftab Chicken, said the poultry industry is still growing.
"Although maintaining quality is a big challenge due to high production costs, the prospect of processed fresh chicken is high in Bangladesh. If anyone comes here with a professional attitude, they will definitely be successful.
"The daily demand for broiler chicken in Bangladesh is 2,100 tonnes. But only 10-15 percent are fulfilled by the chicken processing companies," he added.
According to the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Central Council, only 2 percent or less of the total poultry products are processed in a hygienic manner.
The council claims that all the companies in Bangladesh that process poultry chicken maintain the HACCP – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, the ISO standard, and proper cold chain facilities.
These companies supply fresh chicken to superstores, five-star hotels, chain restaurants, corporate companies, hospitals, bakeries and a few other small-sized restaurants.
All the local brands halal certification and produce halal chicken meat and meat products as the majority Bangladeshis are Muslims.
The BPICC informed The Business Standard that 98 percent of the broiler chicken are sold live in the wet market, which does not maintain proper hygiene and regulatory standards and no cold chain.
Apart from that, the microbiological quality is poor in that meat due to poor hygiene.
"We cannot export processed chicken because we are not declared an avian influenza virus infection-free country. However, Bangladesh exports processed chicken in Nepal and Maldives," said AMM Nurul Alam, general manager (operations-customer foods) of Paragon Agro Limited.
The rise in meat processing industry paved the way for further processed poultry products in the country which includes meat and flour-based frozen snacks.
The products are Crispy Chicken (breast, thigh, leg, wing), Masala Chicken, Fried Chicken, Hot Wings, Crispy Chicken Burger, Chicken Ball, Chicken Sausage, Nuggets, Lollipop, Singara, Chicken Roll, Popcorn, Kabab etc.
These products are sold in the superstores and in retail markets.
The turnover of the local companies in this segment is around Tk25 crore per month and the turnover of imported products is approximately Tk15 crore per month. The total market for frozen snacks is worth about Tk40 crore per month.
"Our processed foods can be found in the supermarkets including Shwapno, Agora and Meena Bazar. We also export further processed items in seven countries," said Abu Sahadat Mohammad Saem, brand manager of AG Food Limited.
"Most of the companies cannot profit in the processed food business because the cold chain system is not developed in Bangladesh. The frozen foods must be preserved under minus 18 degree Celsius. The preservation capacity is not developed widely even in the major cities," he added.
Moshiur Rahman, president of BPICC said, "About 50-60 further processed food items are available in the market from different companies. The products became popular but the market volume is still not satisfactory. Price is a matter here. It will take five more years for the business to fully flourish in Bangladesh."
The major players in the poultry processing business in Bangladesh are – Aftab Bahumukhi Farms Ltd, AG Agro, Brac, CP Bangladesh, Paragon Group, Eon Group, ATR etc.
The major poultry further processing players are – Aftab Bahumukhi Farms Ltd, Brac, CP Bangladesh, AG Agro, Golden Harvest, Kazi Farms Ltd, Nourish Poultry, Paragon Group, Eon Group, Saint Martin Group, Essential, PRAN Group, ATR etc.
Among them, Brac Chicken is going to be closed from December 31, 2019, confirmed a top official of the company. Though the formal announcement of the closure is yet to be announced.
Starting in 2004 with the capacity of processing around 10,000 chicken per day, Brac Chicken became one of the major players in the industry.
Mohammad Anisur Rahman, director of Dairy and Food Social Enterprise, Brac, said, "Brac Chicken was a part of Brac Poultry. Brac Poultry was closed in 2016. Although we continued Brac Chicken, it was facing problems. In the meantime, new competitors have come to the market."
He said, "Brac Chicken is one of the social enterprise business of Brac. We determine the impacts on producers and farmers in such business. After the closing of Brac poultry, there was no backward linage. So, the chance of impacts on producers has lost. This is why Brac is more interested in investing time and money in other sectors."